Letter from the Desk of a Medical Ethics Society President

By: Yael Mayer  |  February 15, 2018

Five years of credit. Eight semesters on YU campus. Around fifty courses. And here it is, my takeaway and piece of advice.

Do what you love.

Really, Yael? If that’s the best you have to offer, perhaps a sixth year is in order. Comedic reality and ‘super-senior’ jabs aside, the statement encapsulates what I have learned and unlearned and relearned over the past four years.

There’s a fairly ludicrous idiom that goes something like this: “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” Now, any sane, sentient individual is aware that taken literally, that’s just a dash too idealistic. Because you will work. You will work hard, thoroughly, exhaustingly, at anything you do. Escaping work is not the ideal–working for what you love, however, is.

I joined the Medical Ethics Society as Vice President prior to my second year at Stern, continuing as President my third year, and currently serve as Executive Director. I must confess that my Google Drive, as a result of this experience, has become a rigorously organized labyrinth that rivals the Dewey Decimal system and Parisian catacombs all at once. (It’s not a Stern article without some solid hyperbole). I dove straight into a world of emails and spreadsheets and conference calls and spreadsheets and sleepless nights and spreadsheets…you get the drift. I worked tirelessly, much as anyone who signs up for any insane unpaid job does.

But I loved it. I loved organizing events that peeled back the layers of a controversial issue and bared the heart of the matter to debate. I loved providing input on ethical issues in medicine that banged at the door of my conscience and knocked at my intellect. I loved meeting with incredible doctors, researchers, rabbis, and ethicists from all over the world, whose passion for their work fairly bleeds out of them. I loved hearing the kaleidoscope of opinions from the minds of students, faculty, community members, and professionals in the field.

It was rewarding to help organize a massive genetic screening to limit the transmission of genetic disease to the next generation. It was fascinating and gratifying to choose a topic for our annual conference, to mold it and shape it (stirring bits of soul in as I went) and watch it come to life. It was humbling to work with a board of some of the most talented, passionate, and interesting people I know. I worked, and I loved it-–and I was happy. Exhausted and happy.

So there you have it. Like almost every other student, there’s scarcely been a day in my life where I haven’t worked (you feel me). But I do what I love–and that has made all the difference. I’ve found that working for what you love feels right. It feels valuable and exciting and purposeful. We will all–every one of us–have to work at something, be it our careers, our passion projects, our families or foundations or dreams.

Do what you love, and you will work every day of your life–and smile about it.